Thursday, October 22, 2009

God's New Way of Dealing with Man

R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Abraham's Journey: Reflections on the Life of the Founding Patriarch, pp. 91, 93:

What method did God employ to bring about a catharsis of the world, to purify it and purge it of evil? He punished all living creatures by exterminating them in the deluge. Living creatures serve man; if man is gone, there is no need for them. Noah then was charged with the same apostolic mission as was Abraham. The building of the ark is symbolic of the call issued to Noah, the summons to build and create a new society. Yet those who survived and came after this natural cataclysm did not improve; man was not redeemed. He remained as wicked as antediluvian man. Punishment, however severe, did not achieve the proper effect.

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Man still led a brute existence, and his intentions remained wicked. The idea of catharsis was not realized through the flood. It did not redeem man from sin and evil. God therefore decided that ruthless punishment would no longer be employed to purge creation of evile. "The Lord said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground anymore for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done" (Gen. 8:21).

How, then, will man mend his ways? How will a new world be created? How will man become civilized and improve?...

God, after the deluge, forsakes the idea of spontaneously and instantly redeeming man. He supplants spontaneity with a deliberate, well-planned, gradual educational gesture. This gesture is bound to succeed, for everyone can ascend the Mount of the Lord. It is only a question of speed and tempo. Man cannot be changed overnight; he must slowly learn to live in peace and justice with his fellow man. For this he needs a guide.

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